Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Waiting in the inbetween

Waiting in the inbetween with Bonhoeffer.

A man sits in a cold cell in Tegel Prison. His body weathered like his clothes. He sits hunched over a desk. Pen in hand. The cold air of winter is the only reminder of the joyous season he is in. He is forced wait, to wonder, to think. He thinks about how every letter will be read twice, maybe three times. Once by the guards, once by the Lieutenant assigned to read them, and once by his loved ones to whom he writes. Three witnesses to each word, three opportunities to share, to pastor from a distance, those who God has given him even in his chains. His words are reflective yet disclose a faith, a real faith, raw yet unflinching, ardent but forloned. Every stroke a testemony, every goodbye could be the last. So from the depths of his cell, and from the depths of His waiting, he writes. These are just some of his reflections from those letters:

The Advent season is a season of waiting, but our whole life is an Advent season, that is, a season of waiting for the last Advent, for the time when there will be a new heaven and a new earth.

We can, and should also, celebrate Christmas despite the ruins around us…I think of you as you now sit together with the children and with all the Advent decorations- as in earlier years you did with us. We must do all this, even more intensively because we do not know how much longer we have.

– Letter to Bonhoeffer’s parents, Nov 29, 1943, from Tegel prison

Waiting is an art that our impatient age has forgotten.. It wants to break open the ripe fruit when it has hardly finished planting the shoot. But all too often the greedy eyes are only deceived; the fruit that seemed so precious is still green on the inside, and disrespectful hands ungratefully toss aside what has so disappointed them. Whoever does not know the austere blessedness of waiting — that is, of hopefully doing without — will never experience the full blessing of fulfillment….

Those who do not know how it feels to struggle anxiously with the deepest question of life, of their life and patiently look forward with anticipation until the truth is revealed, cannot even dream of the spendor of the moment in which clarity is illuminated for them.  And for those who do not want to win the friendship and love of another person — who do not expectantly open up their soul to the soul of the other person, until friendship and love come, until they make their entrance — for such people the deepest blessing of the one like of two intertwined souls will remain forever hidden.

 For the greatest, most profound, tenderest things in the world, we must wait. It happens not here in a storm, but according to the divine laws of sprouting, growing and becoming.

[In this letter Bonhoeffer goes on to console his fiance Maria, while reflecting on the message of Christmas]

…We shall ponder the imcomprehensibility of our lot and be assailed by the question of why, over and above the darkness already enshrouding humanity, we should be subjected to the bitter anguish of a separation whose purpose we fail to understand…and then, just when everything is bearing down on us to such an extent that we can scarcely withstand it, the Christmas message comes to tell us that all of our ideas are wrong, and that what we take to be evil and dark is really good and light because it comes from God. Our eyes are at fault, that is all. God is in the manger, wealth in poverty, light in darkness, succor in abandonment. No evil can befall us; whatever men may do to us, they cannot but serve the God who is secretly revealed as love and rules the world and our lives.

– Letter to Maria von Wedemeyer from prison, Dec 13, 1943

I like to believe when he finished writing. Bonhoeffe smiled, the kind of smile only faith can produce when surrounded by the cold burn of such a hell as Tegel prison. A rich deep smile that starts in the eyes and ends in the heart. A smile sustained by the truth that God was in the manger, and God is on the throne. A smile that does not hide the frustration of longing. A smile that wins friends even enemies. The kind of smile cultivated during advent and enjoyed at Christmas.

In Him
J. Dawson Jarrell

Saturday, April 25, 2015

One sided conversations (a pedigogical attempt at a story that teaches)

Below is a fictional conversation heard in a bus station by a guy named Harvey Strickland,

Last week I was reading in the bus station, waiting for the 428 to Milwaukee. When a young Mediterranean man asked to bum a quarter. I was feeling generous so I passes him a coin. Now the phone booth was near my seat. So I could not help but hear his side of the conversation. This is what I heard:

Hey, Jesus, it's you boy Fay! yea.. I know been while. I thought I would give you a call and see if you were in town. Oh, still out.. Cool cool...Yea, Jesus so when you coming back? You don't know? your dad knows.. Right.. Ok.... Yea... Communication can be hard between a father and Son. You should really try to go fishing with him or something....

Sooooooo, what ya been up too? Reading? You blue-collar boy getting some learn'en. Reading, Exodus.. Like from the bible.. Good stuff.. Wait.... Did you say you think Moses wrote it? Yea, I know the ESV Study Bible says he is the author but that's not totally true. If you got a minute I can explain. Cool! Well buckle up, Jesus, cause I am about to take you to school... Ha ha!! ......... Hu!? Yes! Two years at the university! They had a religion department!!! The teacher was a PhD! I think he was Unitarian..or something.. His name is John Gutierrez... YOU don't KNOW HIM! What's that got to do with anything? Jesus! You can get all high and mighty sometimes.... It you will just listen you may learn something...You see, Actually, there were a series of redactors, working with the J.E.D.P. sources. It is called the documentary hypothesis.

Why are you chuckling? This is serious theology. Really! Ok, well, I am sorry, Jesus, if your "perfect" reading of the Torah has lead you to such a "conviction".

You see when you were in Torah school they did not know about the various groups that make up what is now known as the Documentary Hypothesis.

Yea, H-y-pothesis, the scholars who hold this view are humble enough to call it a hypothesis. They have intellectual virtue. Yes, they do call their approach "Higher" criticism. I thought you did not know this stuff?

Not sure, I will have to look into that, I don't know if "Higher" refers to their intellectual virtue? I'm getting off track... Oh yea, redactors..

Well, the Pentateuch, including Exodus was compiled from various “sources”. The sources are labeled J, E, ... D, and .... P. The different sources were woven “into the Pentateuch” over time most hold the sources were compiled into the current form in Babylon. The redactor wove together the earliest sources (JE) with the D source (JED) and finally the P source into JED.

Well, kinda, I mean it tells stories but not one big story through the whole testament. It is more like a jigsaw puzzle of an abstract painting. Have I read it? The whole thing? Not all of it, but I read the books of people who Have. ..... Enough about me, where was I..

J stands for Yahwist. This source is identified by its use of the term YHWH for God. E stands for Elohimist. This source came after J. They were all about God and morality. D stands for Deuteronomist. Right, they loved Deuteronomy. Some hold this source is the book that was found in the reign of King Josiah (2 Kings 22-23). P stands for Priestly. This source is associated with the concerns of maintaining the priesthood and the worship practices of the people.

Right, The rituals, worship and various religious and ceremonial laws written in exodus were added 400 years later in Babylon. No, it does not undermine the authority of scripture. It just means that it did not happen like the text says it did. No, No, No, that does not mean the text is fake or even untrue. The Moses you read is nothing more than an authors construct but It's spiritually true! Yea.. Oh.. Well .. I need to Go my bus is pulling up... Ok..... Got a too.. you'll be praying for me... Ok? .. Sure... Later.. ..

Harvey Strickland: The young man hung up the phone wondered aimlessly around the station then sat slouching in a chair. Across from him no more than four feet away was the phone booth. It seemed even air laid heavy on him. He sat still pondering as if held by a resolute sadness. Then with god like determination he walked way and got on the 473 to Los Angeles. Not looking back once. With each step his stoic demeanor gave way to the rush of self mastery. He held his head high like one sure of all the answers even the unknown questions. The whole time, muttering to himself.. "I know I'm right...why can't he just listen ."

Back at where he began, propped up against the back of the booth was a slightly used bible. The young man left it after he hung up the phone. He did not need it, any more. The cover was tattered like caught in a battle, top edge bent back frayed and weathered, the bottom half ripped clean off exposing an inscription:

To Fay Roh, from your Friend, Jesus... Don't drowned out a yes with a world of "knows".. Remember I am just a phone call away...


1.) use a story to teach the documentary hypothesis with an obvious bias.
2.) allude to the process of pharaohs heart being hardened until God gave him over to the process (Rom 1).
3.) Show the danger of intellectual ideas that demand claims to authority.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Experienc of Child Birth and The Sanctity of Life on the Human Conscience

"Whoever heard of a midwife as a literary heroine? Yet midwifery is the very stuff of drama. Every child is conceived either in love or lust, is born in pain, followed by joy or sometimes remorse. A midwife is in the thick of it, she sees it all."

Jennifer Worth, “Call The Midwife: A True Story Of The East End In The 1950s.”

Midwives due to their very job as people who help bring human life into the world can't help but be affected by the Beautiful mess of the event. The birth process can invoke a myriad of emotions. In child birth a profound since of the wonder is experienced and as well as a clear indication of the weakness of life. Some things are so deeply rooted in us – instincts and emotions that we are not always aware of but they form us none the less. Consider these two quotes on birthing process from a midwifes persecutive.

“In the cot the baby was sleeping soundly. Gone was the puckered appearance, the discoloration of the skin from the stress and trauma of birth, the cries of alarm and fear at entering this world. He was relaxed and warm and peaceful. Nearly everyone will say that seeing a newborn baby has an effect on them, ranging from awe to astonishment. The helplessness of the newborn human infant has always made an impression on me.” - Jennifer Worth,

“I am almost as overwhelmed as Muriel, the relief of a safe delivery is so powerful. I clamp the baby’s cord in two places, and cut between; I hold him by the ankles upside down to ensure no mucus is inhaled. He breathes. The baby is now a separate being.

I wrap him in the towels given to me, and hand him to Muriel, who cradles him, coos over him, kisses him, calls him “beautiful, lovely, an angel”. Quite honestly, a baby covered in blood, still slightly blue, eyes screwed up, in the first few minutes after birth, is not an object of beauty. But the mother never sees him that way. To her, he is all perfection.” - Jennifer Worth

I think a baby is a self-evident truth in diapers. Just seeing a new born baby will usually evoke pleasant, happy emotions. Being involved even secondarily in the birth process can bring a new found respect for life. Some theologians have noted that the curse of pain in child birth also has a grace. It makes a way for mothers to deeply feel the sanctity of life. For if through pain comes life, then such a process breeds a deep appreciation and wonder for life. Midwives also experience this due to the consistently and proximity they are to the birthing process.

Midwives experience the messy celebration of life that is a birth. A midwife's experience over time could produce indifference even contempt but never before imprinting the paradoxical truth that Life is fragile and yet resolute. Life is seen in its truest form open to the elements, in need of protection, and yet stretching, hopefully, leaning forward into the oncoming succession of moments.

In light of such an impact consider that a every year in the United States alone, some three to five thousand babies are killed by a chilling procedure known as “partial-birth abortion.” The murder of a human child is always a shocking and brutal act, but few things on earth could be as barbaric as the killing of a baby at the very moment of birth. Also it is very interesting that the practice of midwifery is almost nonexistent in America. Coincidence maybe, tragedy truely, on both accounts.

In Him
J. Dawson Jarrell

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Two Readings for Easter

Easter Mediation by Lactantius, written from the perspective of jesus speaking to his church. It paints a painful that draws us into deeper reflection on the one who

Does it please you to go through all of My pain experience grief with Me? Then consider plots against Me and the irreverent price of My innocent blood. Consider the disciple's pretended kisses, the crowd's insults and abuse, and, even more, the mocking blows and accusing tongues. Imagine the false witnesses, Pilate's cursed judgment, the immense cross pressed on My shoulders and tired back, and My painful steps to a dreadful death. Study Me from head to foot. I am deserted and lifted high up above My beloved mother. See My hair clotted with blood, and My head encircled by cruel thorns. For a stream of blood is pouring down like rain on all sides of My Divine Face. Observe My sunken, sightless eyes and My beaten cheeks. See My parched tongue that was poisoned with gall. My face is pale with death. Look at My hands that have been pierced with nails and My drawn-out arms. See the great wound in My side and the blood streaming from it. Imagine My pierced feet and bloodstained limbs. Then bow, and with weeping adore the wood of the cross. With a humble face, stoop to the earth that is wet with innocent blood. Sprinkle it with tears, and carry Me and My encouragement in your devoted heart. (1)

St. Ambrose writes on the mystery of the cross and how the cross changes everything. Reminding us that we are servants of the Lord and no longer slaves to the sin all because of jesus.

O the divine mystery of that cross! Weakness hangs on it, power is freed by it, evil is nailed to it, and triumphal trophies are raised toward it. One saint said: "Pierce my flesh with nails for fear of Thee." He doesn't mean nails of iron, but of fear and faith. For the chains of righteousness are stronger than those of punishment. Peter's faith bound him when he followed the Lord as far as the high priest's hall. No person had bound him and punishment didn't free him since his faith bound him. Again, when Peter was bound by the Jews, prayer freed him. Punishment didn't hold him because he hadn't turned from Christ.

Do you also crucify sin so that you can die to sin? Those who die to sin live to God. Do you live for Him who didn't even spare His own Son so that He could crudfy our sins in His body? For Christ died for us that we could live in His revived body. Therefore, our guilt and not our life died in Him who, it is said, "bare our sins in His own body on the tree; that being set free from our sins we might live in righteousness, by the wound of whose stripes we are healed."(2)

End Notes

(1) Lactantius, Poem on the passion of the Lord
(2) Ambrose, Of the Holy Spirit 1.9

Bio - Lactantius
Lactantius (c. 240-. 320). Lactantius's writings have such a style and grace about them that he has been called the Christian Cicero. It is assumed he was a native of Africa, where he attained prominence as a teacher of rhetoric. Diocletian invited him to live in Nicomedia and teach, but he had such a difficult time there that he focused on composition. He became a Christian late in life and was hired by Emperor Constantine to teach his son Crispus. Lactantius's writings defend the Christian faith and refute prevailing heresies.

Bio - Ambrose
Ambrose (c. 339-397). Ambrose was the first Latin church father bom into a Christian family. He devoted himself to studying the law and was rewarded by being appointed governor of the northern section of Italy in 370. Four years later, the people of Milan appointed him as bishop of their city. Ambrose faced down emperors while teaching the truths of Jesus on a weekly basis to the people. He did much to advance congregational singing, and composed an influential book on Christian ethics. Most notable Ambrose was instrumental in bringing a young Augustine to Jesus and disciples the great thinker in the faith. Without Ambrose we would not have Augustine.

In Him
J. Dawson Jarrell

Location:Dallas,United States

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Mary pondered, a meditation on the hidden gifts of Christmas.

Confusion can be frustrating. It can make us grit out teeth or even scream out in frustration. Confusion can also be a call for reflection. It reminds us, we don't know it all nor do we understand half the things we think we do. It shows us our need and is an opportunity to enter into deep reflection with the promise of discovering something True, Beautiful, or Good. I think this was Mary's experience in that stable so many years ago. 

Hundreds of scholars have debated the pondering of Mary's heart. I guess the thoughts of one hack can't hurt. I want to consider three possibilities. Three confusions found in the Christmas story. Three confusions that remind us of the love of God, his goodness towards man and the glory of Christmas.

Three maybes that Mary may have pondered.
Maybe it was the oddity of the messenger that Prompted Mary to ponder. How odd to her that God would choose to make shepherds, the unclean and shady men who smelled more like an animal than a human. These outliers are chose oracles. No way, that makes no sense. God chooses the great and values the best not the lowly and marginal people. She could have thought, Where these men God's herald? stinky smelly shepherds ordained as God's evangelists? When I have good new, I go first to my loved ones. I run head long to those dear to my heart to share my joy. Is that what God did? If so, what a picture of grace flavored love. God's intention in the form of angelic invitation beginning with the lowly. God's love flowing down to the depths of the valley finding the castaways, hungry souls. Men unfit, barred from the temple, unclean. Men in the night air secretly longing for redemption. Towards such men, God's love runs with good news. Was, God 's love towards such men, the thought she pondered on that night?

Maybe it was the oddity of the message that Prompted Mary to ponder. Maybe Mary pondered the announcement they told her. Now the text, does not say, but Surely the shepherds were asked to explain why in the middle of the night men of bad reputations were going from house to house in search of a baby boy. Any good parent would ask such questions and Mary and Joseph, I am sure where such parents.

In my minds eye I see the shepherds, one part hillbilly the other duck dynasty. I can see them with wild eyed wonder retelling the angels announcement. Of how they were watching over those sheep not far from town, (sheep that a historian 300 years later clams were the flocks set aside for sacrifice in the temple.) I can see those shepherds, faces slightly sunburnt still aglow from the encounter. Telling tales of Angels declaring the birth of a king in the backwoods of Israel. I see Mary intently listening to the Angels words, "I bring you good news of great joy, that is for all people" did Mary ponder that all. A king is over a nation not the "all" of all people. Could it be, the good news of great tidings is bigger than the next political movement? Bigger than Israel, beyond Palestine. Is it news for all people. A king born for all people? Quite confusing for Jewish girl of 18. Maybe that is what she pondered.

Or could it be something else, no less confusing than a God of all grace who's love moves him to choose first, the unlikely, and undone. No less befuddling than a gospel of a king for all people, and not just the privileged few.

There's one more possibility I would like to propose Mary pondered. Maybe it was just her, baby, her little man. Maybe, her confusion over the baby in her arms or just the wonder of a new life. A mother looking at her child for the first time can't help but marvel. Did Mary marvel and just reflect on the little body before her; A little seed of life, full of potential. When she looked at him did she see, an uncertain future? His destiny, mixed in prophecy and sung by angels that night, did it still hold a mystery just out of Her grasp. Did she see the possibility before her, salvation in her hands? The full potential of redemption's plan ready to begin, all wrapped up in swaddling clothes and laying in a manger. Did she consider the implication, unfold them one by one. Was their pause to consider Isaiah's word as she held her child. Did she ever think that this baby, once a man would give himself to be the substitution for a nation, a people redeemed in him.

I don't know what Mary pondered but I know who she held. I have pondered him through in the dryness and days undone by grace. I ponder the truth I have unfolded time and again, a truth resting in that manger, realized on a cross. I have learned in reflection of a special Christmas gift hidden in seed form amidst the hay of that manger. This gift can best seen out of the corner of our eyes, seen in those standing next to us. Mary held the body of Christ. 33 years later that same body would bleed and bind a people beyond time and for eternity, into one new humanity. Just like there is no cross without Christmas, no hope without His first heartbeat. There is no community of faith without a baby in a manger. How silly we would be to gather together as we do, if he were not born yet how profound it is that he was born to gather.

In a world that would strip us of who we are to wrap us in other another garment. A world that calls us outliers, stinking Shepard, blind backwards sheep. We are reminded that God is with us; In history and time, in mystery and community. And So in our greeting and treating of each other we are Christ, God with us, in the world. We are Christ with us, given to one another as a gift, to weep with us, to smile with us, to laugh with us, to give the gift of presence. A double meeting where sinner laughs with sinner and sinner and sinner enjoy the savior. A double blessing of presence where the Savior's presence is enjoyed in the presence of believing hearts. It is in our sharing he is revealed. A Sacramental gift, an invisible reality made visible, even tangible, through the smiles and laughter, even in the pancake parties and pajama pants. I see jesus in his body - this is most true for me at Christmas.

So may our meeting have the gravity of "the other" also near, and may our greeting have the levity of costly grace entered in. That we may in whole heartedly honesty with a loving tremble in our voice, say, "Merry Christmas - God is with us, God is with us all, let us rejoice!"

In Him
J. Dawson Jarrell

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Video on Empathy

Empathy is a common grace given to all humanity that should be cultivated.

In Him
J. Dawson Jarrell

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Walking with Jesus through Good Friday (Part 4)

Below is the scriptural stages of the Cross, with my reflections over the weekend and a prayer. Blessings

Twelfth Station: Jesus Dies on the Cross
Luke 23: 44-46: It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon because of an eclipse of the sun. Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle. Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit"; and when he had said this he breathed his last.

Here we have two signs and one example. Such signs are a part of God's ways in dealing with man at major junctions in human history. He knows the desperate stupidity and unbelief of human nature, and so in his mercy gives us a clue to led us on towards faith. There was a sign for an unbelieving world. The darkness at mid-day was a miracle which would compel men to think, "who was this Jesus?". There was a sign for the professing Church. The tearing of the curtain which hung between the holy place and the holy of holies, was a miracle which would state a change has happened. The heart of every religious person may ask, 'how did Jesus death affect how we relate to God?'

One example: There is a sense in which our Jesus' words supply a lesson to all true Christians. They show us the manner in which death should be met by all God's children. They afford an example which every believer should strive to follow. Like our Master, we should fear not at deaths door. We should regard him as a vanquished enemy, an enemy with no teeth. Death make take us but it will be without a sting. Christ has taken on himself and take away in himself the sting of death by His death.

We should await his approaches with calmness and patience, and believe that when it is our time, we are in good able hands that will keep up and deliver us into the glories of our heavenly Father. Happy indeed are those who end well, with hearts confessing, "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day." (2 Tim. 1:12)

Prayer: Lord, grant us trust in you that when our time on earth in ended we may enter your rest and ever be with you.

Thirteenth Station: Jesus is Placed in the Tomb
Matthew 27: 57-60: When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph, who was himself a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be handed over. Taking the body, Joseph wrapped it [in] clean linen and laid it in his new tomb that he had hewn in the rock. Then he rolled a huge stone across the entrance to the tomb and departed.

Reflections: His work is accomplished but what evidence do we have of this finished work. The lamb is dead. The blood has been poured on the alter. This fact is placed beyond dispute, by those that buried him could not have been deceived. Their own hands and eyes attest to the fact, Jesus whom they handled was a corpse.

The importance of the fact before us is far greater than most would suppose.
If Christ did not die, there would be an end of all the comfort of the Gospel. Nothing short of His death could have paid man's debt to God. His incarnation, and preaching, the parables, and miracles, his righteous life and complete obedience to the law, would have been for nothing, if He had not died. Because we did not need a teacher, or therapist or community organizer we needed a Savior. One who would stand in our place, a substitutionary willing and worthy to redeem humanity.

The penalty threatened to the first Adam was death, an eternal death in hell. If the second Adam had not really and actually died in our place, as well as taught us truth, the original penalty would have continued in full force against Adam and all of us as well. It was the life-blood of Christ which was to save our souls. So the sadness of Jesus' life-less corpse is the assurance of a finished payment - the lamb had been sacrificed - our sin has been covered.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for the gift of your death. May we see clearly and love dearly what you accomplished in your death.

In Him
J. Dawson Jarrell

In Him
J. Dawson Jarrell

Walking with Jesus through Good Friday (Part 3)

Below is the scriptural stages of the Cross, with my reflections over the weekend and a prayer. Blessings

Eighth Station: Jesus is Helped by Simon the Cyrenian to Carry the Cross
Mark 15: 21: They pressed into service a passer-by, Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross.

Reflections: Simon was a chosen instrument not by a roman soldier but by the will of God. He was given the unpleasant task of sharing in the journey of the cross. He was willing to help, not to please the roman soldier but to be an instrument of grace and easy in the journey of Jesus.

Prayer: Lord, grant us willing spirits that we may be your instruments on earth. May our hearts say yes before the request I'd given.

Ninth Station: Jesus instructs the Women of Jerusalem
Luke 23: 27-31: A large crowd of people followed Jesus, including many women who mourned and lamented him. Jesus turned to them and said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children, for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, 'Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.' At that time, people will say to the mountains, 'Fall upon us!' and to the hills, 'Cover us!' for if these things are done when the wood is green what will happen when it is dry?"

Reflections:It is compassion to warn of coming danger.
He tells them of the total Destruction of Jerusalem that was soon to happen, in less than 30 years. He was operated in His prophetic office in giving this remarkable prediction. It can be said that Jesus was 'busy. He had been 'tied up, in meetings all day and their was a lot on his mind. Using our standards of jusgment, we could say, Jesus would've been justified in being distracted and inward focused. He had the cross before him yet he took time to help others avoid suffering. Pain can make us turn inward and focus on ourselves yet in the middle of great suffering Jesus is still other-focused.

Prayer: Lord, grant us gentle spirits that we may comfort those who mourn.

Tenth Station: Jesus is Crucified
Luke 23: 33-34: When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there, one on his right, the other on his left. [Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do."]

Reflections: Our Lord's words of gracious intercession. Jesus' first words were, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." His own racking agony of body did not make Him forget others. The first word from the cross was a prayer for the souls of His murderers. He operates in his priestly office by interceding for those who crucified Him. "Father," He said, "forgive them.". He is the one who forgives and are given the task of sharing what he has done and his word "forgiven".

Prayer: Lord, grant us merciful hearts that we may bring your reconciliation and forgiveness to all.

Eleventh Station: Jesus Promises His Kingdom to the repentant Thief
Luke 23: 39-43: Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, "Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us." The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, "Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." He replied to him, "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."

Reflections: Here we see jesus imply he would soon operate in his kingly office. he would soon win the victory and swing wide the door of paradise to the repentant thief. Jesus is the only one who can say, "you will be with me in Paradise". No one but Jesus has that kind of authority. he is the king and we are all like the thief people whose crimes against the king are punishable by death.

I marvel at Thief's words. His response in so few words, says so much. It is a lifetime of prayer, and a world of desperation packed into three little words. "Jesus, remember me." Such a short prayer has a library of truth behind it. 7 truths can be deserved from his words. They are outlined below.

1. He believed in an afterlife, that Humanity lives on after the body is dead.
2. He believed in an eternal judgement - At that time there will be a judgment. The life of each man would be judged.
3. He believed something special, different, holy was happening in Jesus suffering.
4. He believed Jesus was the righteous king - Christ alone have the right and authority to rule in such judgments. Only at Jesus' word was one granted entrance to that Kingdom.
5. He believed salvation was found in gaining entry to this kingdom. Jesus' kingdom was a better world than the present evil world.
6. He believed jesus was a Gracious King. Giving pardon on those who truly repent and granting access into his eternal kingdom, a kingdom of which no man did not deserve entry.
7. He believed jesus was the only way of salvation - He trusts fully upon a dying Savior for salvation.

Prayer: Lord, grant us perseverance that we may never stop seeking you. That in our desperation we seek you, in our suffering we seek you and we pray boldly with truth under us as if our life depended on it. Help our hearts grasp your Lordship and may we not just call you but be servants of the king.

In Him
J. Dawson Jarrell

Walking with Jesus through Good Friday (Part 2)

Below is the scriptural stages of the Cross,

Fourth Station: Jesus is Denied by Peter
Matthew 26: 69-75: Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. One of the maids came over to him and said, "You too were with Jesus the Galilean." But he denied it in front of everyone, saying, "I do not know what you are talking about!" As he went out to the gate, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, "This man was with Jesus the Nazorean." Again he denied it with an oath, "I do not know the man!" A little later the bystanders came over and said to Peter, "Surely you too are one of them; even your speech gives you away." At that he began to curse and to swear, "I do not know the man." And immediately a cock crowed. Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had spoken: "Before the cock crows you will deny me three times." He went out and began to weep bitterly.

Peter did not clearly see himself, even when Jesus told him. He did not discern his heart level beliefs. He believed he loved God more than he did. Our own hearts are a labyrinth of an unknown design. It is a mix of pagan temples and mental cages with paths that lead nowhere, turning back in on itself, taking us back around to the same answers and idols as before. Yet unlike before we assure ourself that we have proven our case in sure logic and sound argument. In the end, We reinforce our original position and worship our old idols for we have only dabbled in the art of self-deception and traveled the path of a thousand fruitless journeys.

Only in the light of the Gospel do I see the danger of my own deception for I am a sinner. I see my life to be lived by the faithfulness of the Son of God who loves me. And the grace of freedom in the gift of the Spirit, who can transform a labyrinth of folly into a temple of the Holy Spirit.

Lord, grant us the gift of honesty, the clarity of knowing how you see the world,
that we may not fear to speak the truth even when difficult.

Fifth Station: Jesus is Judged by Pilate
Mark 15: 1-5, 15: The chief priests with the elders and the scribes, that is, the whole Sanhedrin, held a council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. Pilate questioned him, "Are you the king of the Jews?" He said to him in reply, "You say so." The chief priests accused him of many things. Again Pilate questioned him, "Have you no answer? See how many things they accuse you of." Jesus gave him no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.... Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barrabas... [and] handed [Jesus] over to be crucified.

Reflections: A way of viewing life that is not like the world sees. Pilate for all his learning could not discern the truth. The crowd in all their fervor did not discern their king right before them.

Lord, grant us discernment that we may see as you see, not as the world sees. May we know truth and live truth as you are the truth.

Sixth Station: Jesus is Scourged and Crowned with Thorns
John 19: 1-3: Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged. And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head, and clothed him in a purple cloak, and they came to him and said,"Hail, King of the Jews!" And they struck him repeatedly.

If we call ourselves Christians, we should expect a crown of thorns and not the red carpet. The more we let our light shine, the more we act out of step with the new morality. The more we live counter cultural, the more the "Pilate" of this world dismiss us. The more we stand up for the truth, the more the "political forces' of this world mock us and place on us the purple cloaks of satire. The oppression and marginalizing of the gospel message reveals both darkness in the hearts of the powerful and Jesus like courage in the hearts of his people.

Lord, grant us patience in times of suffering
that we may offer our lives as a sacrifice of praise. For we know and understand suffering for your name sake is a part of the Christian life.

Seventh Station: Jesus Bears the Cross
John 19: 6, 15-17: When the chief priests and the guards saw [Jesus] they cried out, "Crucify him, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and crucify him. I find no guilt in him." ... They cried out, "Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your king?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar." Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and carrying the cross himself he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha.

Reflections: Only Jesus could take up his cross. It was his purpose and mission in life. Our strength is directly related to our commitment to the mission and our dependance on God. Two things Jesus lived flawlessly. Even when faced with profound rejection he did not waver but remained fixed on the purpose for with he had come.

Prayer: Lord, grant us strength of purpose that we may faithfully bear our crosses each day and be on mission for your glory.

In Him
J. Dawson Jarrell

Walking with Jesus through Good Friday (Part 1)

Below is the scriptural stages of the Cross, with my reflections over the weekend and a prayer. Blessings

First Station: Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane
Matthew 26:36-41: Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to feel sorrow and distress. Then he said to them, "My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me." He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will." When he returned to his disciples he found them asleep. He said to Peter, "So you could not keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."

Reflections: here we look out at biblical strength and wisdom, the Son of God in prayer. Christ teaches us that in all activity, the first activity is prayer. Also here we see the first drops of atoning blood, a for taste of the work to come.

Prayer: Lord, give us the blessing won at Gethsemane. Give us a heart of prayer. May our prayers grow to faintly resemble our Lord's heart, give over to worship, willing to choose your will even if it is hard. May it be granted to us the strength and wisdom found in the first drops of shed blood sprinkled on the altar of prayer. And in so ground us in Gethsemane' strength and wisdom won by Christ that we may seek to follow God's will in all things.

Second Station: Jesus, Betrayed by Judas, is Arrested
Mark 14: 43-46: Then, while [Jesus] was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived, accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs, who had come from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. His betrayer had arranged a signal with them, saying, "the man I shall kiss is the one; arrest him and lead him away securely." He came and immediately went over to him and said, "Rabbi." And he kissed him. At this they laid hands on him and arrested him.

Reflections: A symbol of friendship was bent into a sign of betrayal. Who knows Judas motives? No one knows why, he did what he did. What is clear is Jesus did not respond to betrayal with bitterness. He responded only to the will of the Father not the malice of men. He responded with Gospel!

Prayer: Lord, grant us the courage of our convictions, that you are sufficient for all our needs, that our lives may faithfully reflect the good news you bring. And when we are touched by the betrayer's kiss me we respond with Gospel.

Third Station: Jesus is Condemned by the Sanhedrin
Luke 22: 66-71: When day came the council of elders of the people met, both chief priests and scribes, and they brought him before their Sanhedrin. They said, "If you are the Messiah, tell us," but he replied to them, "If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I question, you will not respond. But from this time on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God." They all asked, "Are you then the Son of God?" He replied to them, "You say that I am." Then they said, "What further need have we for testimony? We have heard it from his own mouth.

Unlike the progression of the day, hearts remain dark long after daylight turns to noonday. We are all the Sanhedrin. We have all pass judgment on Jesus. We have all tried to build our own kingdom. We are all in need of his righteousness to dispels all the darkness. We are all in need of his discerning light, so we may live as a people of daylight justice in a dark world. Power struggles are messy, only because we struggle for power instead of working for his justice in the service of our king.

Lord, give us the grace to loose the struggle for power, empower trust to win in our hearts. Grant us an sense of what moves your heart, an understanding of what makes you smile and a knowledge of your righteousness that we may never cease to work, to bring about the justice of the kingdom that you promised.